onions + tomatoes + yogurt

Even If You Don’t Go “Whole Hog,” A Semi-Vegetarian Diet Could Lower Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease and Stroke by As Much As 20 Percent

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“Researchers suggest that substituting some of the meat in your diet with vegetables may be a simple way to lower the risk of heart-related death.”
–American Heart Association (March 5, 2015)

The American Heart Association presented results from a large-scale study (of 451,256 participants) suggesting that a pro-vegetarian diet emphasizing a higher proportion of plant-based foods compared to animal-based foods may help lower the risks of dying from heart disease and stroke by up to 20 percent.

That’s great news for all the people we’ve encountered over the past few years who’ve told us that they could never see themselves as vegan or even vegetarian, so they thought, “Why bother?”

And as we continue to say to them and to everyone else, it’s a spectrum (from omnivore to semi-vegetarian to vegetarian to vegan) — and the goal is progress, not perfection.  (Thanks to long-time vegan author Victoria Moran for teaching Karen that one!)

So if you’re still an omnivore, there are lots of reasons why you’ll want to consider cutting down your meat consumption (which America has been doing since 2007, although we still have very high meat consumption per capita compared to other countries), and increasing your consumption of vegetables and other plant-based foods (e.g., legumes, fruits, whole grains).

Once you do, you should know we’ve got just the book to help spur your creativity in the kitchen with plant-based ingredients!

Note:  The study’s co-authors are Joline Beulens, Ph.D.; Yvonne Van der Schouw, Ph.D.; Nina Roswall, Ph.D.; Elizabete Weiderpass, M.D., Ph.D.; Dora Romaguera Ph.D.; Elio Riboli, M.D., Ph.D. and Ioanna Tzoulaki Ph.D.  No outside funding was received for this study.

The American Heart Association‘s study is summarized on ScienceDaily.com here.

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible (Hachette/Little, Brown) can be found at better bookstores everywhere, from Kitchen Arts & Letters to Amazon.

The Vegetarian Resource Group is at vrg.org.

Victoria Moran can be found at MainStreetVegan.com, and she also runs the Main Street Vegan Academy.

Chef Hemant Mathur Working His Magic at Haldi and 5 Other Indian Restaurants in NYC

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That magical night, years ago, that we were treated to the greatest Indian dinner we’d ever tasted in the United States at Amma, we learned that the talented chefs responsible for our feast were Hemant Mathur and Suvir Saran.  We later followed the chefs to Devi (the first Indian restaurant in America to receive a Michelin star), and eventually followed Mathur to Tulsi (and are still eagerly awaiting Saran’s forthcoming Indian restaurant in San Francisco), where we interviewed him and photographed some of his dishes for THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE.

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Left: Jhal Muri: puffed rice, peanuts, green chutney, and tomatoes; Center: The words of one of the 20th century’s great yoga masters Swami Sivananda; Right: Mirchi Vada: crunchy chili fritters stuffed with potato and dipped in chickpea flour batter

Now that Mathur is overseeing the menus at six different Indian restaurants in the city, we’re looking forward to seeing how he transforms each of them.  First up on the list is Haldi in Little India, whose glossy saffron-hued take-out menu trumpets “Celebrating Calcutta….From the palace to the street cart, a culinary tour of India’s cultural capital.”  Based on a recent lunch and dinner there, we’re impressed.

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While Haldi is informal, the back dining room (above) is a bit more formal.

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The front dining room (above, left) is a bit more casual.  One of the standout Marwari Bites is grilled pumpkin (above, center), with a pickle marinade, ginger-garlic, and panch poran spice.  The rear dining room features light fixtures made of green wine bottles (above, right).

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During a recent lunch, we enjoyed whole-wheat breads, fried okra, basmati rice, and Subji Miloni (mixed vegetables with spinach; back, left to right).  But our favorite wintertime dish at Haldi is the Marwari entree Gatta Curry (front, center):  steamed chickpea flour cakes with tomato curry, which was so delicious we asked Mathur to describe it to us:

Save room for one of pastry chef Surbhi Sahni‘s lovely desserts — at a bare minimum, one of her #dessertworthy Rum Balls: Callibaut chocolate and fig cakes made with roasted mixed nuts (below, right).  The restaurant has plenty of offerings appealing to vegans, vegetarians, and semi-vegetarians alike, as the sign outside the restaurant suggests (below, left).

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Next, Mathur — who is becoming so well known for his cuisine that we witnessed a party come in off the street after they recognized his face on the double-sided window sign (above center) — will turn his attention to Chola, with four other restaurants (Malai Marke, Dhaba, Kokum, and Chote Nawab) to follow.

We predict that lovers of Indian food in Manhattan will continue to have much cause for rejoicing as Mathur unveils new regional specialties at each.

Haldi is at 102 Lexington Avenue (at 27th St.) in Manhattan.  212.213.9615.  haldinyc.com  The two-course lunch (one appetizer and one entree for $15, or $12 for vegetarians) is a great deal.

Chola is at 232 East 58th Street (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.) in Manhattan.  212.688.4619.

Malai Marke is at 318 Sixth Street (bet. 1st & 2nd Aves.) in Manhattan. 212.777.7729.

Dhaba is at 108 Lexington Ave. (bet. 27th & 28th Sts.) in Manhattan.  212.679.1284.  dhabanyc.com

Kokum is at 106 Lexington Ave. (bet. 27th & 28th Sts.) in Manhattan.  212.684.6842.  kokumny.com

Chote Nawab is at 115 Lexington Ave. (bet. 27th & 28th Sts.) in Manhattan.  212.679.4713.  chotenawabnyc.com